Skip to content

Thanksgiving Blog: A Writer & Editor Gives Thanks

November 27, 2013


We’ve arrived at the season of giving, and giving thanks, so wanted to share about some of the writing- and life-related people and things for which I am so thankful this year.

First, to the two people who have entrusted me to write and work with them on their magnificent stories, both of which will be published worldwide in 2014 – surfer Clay Marzo, and musician-producer Stevie Salas.

Clay Marzo, at play in the waves of the world

Clay Marzo, at play in the waves of the world

Clay is the fabulous pro surfing star from Maui who lives with Asperger’s syndrome, a high-functioning aspect of the autism spectrum. “Fabulous” is putting it mildly. On any given day when the waves are right – like last week’s epic 15-foot day at Golf Balls, a secret spot in Maui – Clay is one of the two or three best surfers in the world. What he does on a wave defies description. What he does on land gets more and more valuable every day – shedding light and hope to autistic children and adults, as he’ll be doing this weekend at a Surfers Healing event in Waikiki.

The book I’m writing, Just Add Water, will be published in Summer 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. The beauty of it? Clay tells part of the story himself – well beyond the limited interviews he has given to this point.

Just Add Water grew out of a dinner my fiancée, Martha, and I had with my long-time friend, Mitch Varnes. Mitch and I last teamed up on a big project in 1993, when he worked at NASA and I wanted to do a 25th anniversary tribute to the Apollo 11 moon landing. Voila! Ten months later, One Giant Leap for Mankind was the official 25th anniversary publication for NASA – and I had the honor of meeting and working with 11 of the 12 then-surviving moonwalkers.

Times change. Now, Mitch is an athlete agent and the producer of a number of outstanding distance races and triathlons, including the USA Master’s Half Marathon Championships. He’s also Clay Marzo’s manager. We put two and two together at dinner – and now, I’m three weeks away from turn-in of the manuscript.

• • •

Stevie Salas (right) performing recently in London

Stevie Salas (right) performing recently in London

For those who grew up in North San Diego County in the 1970s and early 1980s, like I did, Stevie Salas is a bit of a legend. In a span of three years, he vaulted from playing in the hot local band This Kids to becoming Rod Stewart’s lead guitarist on the Out of Order Tour. Since then, his body of work is that of a highly talented, well-connected workaholic – 11 solo albums, playing and producing sessions on dozens more, guitarist-musical director stints on tours by Mick Jagger and Terence Trent d’Arby, musical director of American Idol, contemporary music advisor to the Smithsonian Institution, executive producer and co-host of the Canadian People’s Choice Award-winning Arbor Live! TV series, a star on three continents, and a hero to Native Americans in the U.S. and Canada.

Most recently, Stevie has been through a rough time. His beloved father, Larry, passed away two weeks ago. The eulogy he gave at Larry’s service on Tuesday was one of the best tributes I’ve ever heard – sad, funny, poignant, gripping. People were laughing and crying at the same time.

I am working with Stevie to complete his memoir, The Kid’s In The Band, to be published September 2014 by Taylor Trade, a division of Rowman-Littlefield.

• • •

Along with these books comes a special literary agent, who believed in both when I presented them to her – and who promptly secured our publishing deals. Many mahalos, Dana Newman, for these and other projects on which we’ve worked the past two years …

Which brings me to the rather long list of authors on my Thanksgiving gratitude list.  These are the people who came to me to work with them on either advising, editing, promoting or marketing their books … and tomorrow, they will sit with their friends and/or families with published or soon-to-be-published books in hand.

1461789_10152056766079316_1047927258_nFirst, Lynne Martin. Lynne’s travel memoir, Home Sweet Anywhere, will be published by Sourcebooks in Spring 2014 – and Sourcebooks is loading their promotional cannons big-time. Rightly so. Lynne wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal about the way she and her husband, fiction author Tim Martin, live in different places of the world, a few months at a time. That was in October 2012. She called me, we hurriedly wrote a proposal, and sent it to Dana in November. By December, she had a deal. And last week, Lynne proudly sent around the cover. Want to read a great travel narrative full of life, humor, both the hard and soft spots of living in different places – and the sheer adventure of spending your retirement this way? You can pre-order now on Amazon

This week marks the launch of AK Patch’s fabulous novel, Passage at Delphi, about two professors PAD cover lo-reswhisked back into one of the climactic wars of Ancient Greece – part of a deeper training orchestrated by Apollo, the Greek God of Prophecy (among other titles). Dr. Patch also has a feminine heroine lead character, in this case Lauren Fletcher. Passage at Delphi has already received strong reviews from Midwest Book Review, Library Bookwatch and Underground Book Review, and promises to give you a look at Ancient Greece you’ve not seen before – through the eyes of two 21st century professors. The writing is riveting, the descriptions so clear you can reach out and touch our distant creative and democratic roots. Many mahalos, Dr. Patch, for bringing me onboard.

51lzXiMlrFL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-64,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_Then there is Claudette Marco, whom I met and befriended at the Southern California Writers Conference in February. Claudette is a young adult fantasy author with a trilogy underway, The Satchel & Sword Trilogy. We worked on the edits for her first two books, along with some promotion. On Monday, the first book in the series that stars 15-year-old Amazonian warrior Nevaline Scarcliff, The Search for the Saluka Stonereleased. Claudette is already on her way: in May, she’ll be a guest panelist at the ConCarolinas Sci/Fi Fantasy Convention, one of the largest in the country.  Not only has her writing blossomed, but also her confidence at realizing that she is one of the best new YA fantasy voices in the country. What a gratifying thing to bear witness to!

Earlier in the year, I had the pleasure to work with Dr. Jide Familoni on his novel, Losing My Religion, the 51t2LrH51sL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-64,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_tale of a Nigerian man’s struggles (and triumphs) to live in the culture of the American South while retaining his native Yoruban tradition. Based somewhat on Dr. Familoni’s own story, Losing My Religion poignantly shows how culture clashes and differences can tear at us at the heart and soul level. This book also features a great thrill ride of intrigue and danger. Thank you, Jide.

Once again, I set to work with my good long-time friend, Stephen B. Gladish, on his trilogy of novels – Storm Chasers, Island Fever, and Mustang Fever. We spent much of the year re-editing and re-working the books, getting them primed and positioned for a 2014 release. They follow the stories, adventures, perils, failures and triumphs of Chance Chisholm and LukeLaCrosse, close friends and servicemen in the Air Force’s 6th Weather Squadron. These books are historical adventure romances, with a secondary military component. Can’t wait to see them in print.

Then I came across a group of authors who are, quite simply, 24/7 producers of fine books. They include William Thompson Ong, Claudia Whitsitt, Laura Taylor, Gayle Carline, and Jenny Hilborne. I’ve known all but Jenny for several years, from the Southern California Writers Conference, but this year, I came to appreciate their works and their absolute commitment to their craft and readers. Isn’t that what writing books is supposed to be about? Story and readership? I helped Claudia with a couple of her books, but otherwise, sat back and became a fan of these four women, one of whom (Laura) is a multiple best-selling author. Thanks to all of you. And an extra thanks to Laura for introducing me to Drs. Patch and Familoni.

Also, my thanks to Charles Redner, who lets me indulge my poetic side every spring when I edit his publication, The Hummingbird Review. Charlie is one of my favorite people, and also a great person with whom to discuss literary topics.

There are many others to thank, authors whose works have passed through my desk are are headed toward publication down the line. They include: Elizabeth Allen, Jennifer Hillman, Isaac Lomeli, Leo Willcocks, Davion Famber, Christine Magnus Moore, Steve Jam, Rondi Brown, Amin Nash, Lillith Black, Traci Goodman, Gloria O’Brien, and my fiancée, Martha Halda, who is hard at work on her stirring memoir, A Taste of Eternity. She’s grown into a fine writer while having to put up with a sometimes maniacal one.

I could go on and on … but I’m already way past maximum word count. Final special Thanksgiving thanks to my webmaster and co-publisher, Brian Wilkes of Tuscany Global Publishing; to Michael Steven Gregory and Wes Albers of the Southern California Writers Conference; to Tony Todaro of the West Coast Writers Conference and LA Digital Writers Conference; and to Charles Warner, publisher at Innovation & Technology Today, the man who convinced me to jump back into the magazine editing business after years away from it. To those I missed, I’m really sorry – but I thank you with all my heart.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Am off to run the Oceanside Turkey Trot 5-mile and 5K races Thursday morning, then engorging on football and turkey the rest of the day.

One Comment
  1. Kudos, Robert Yehling!
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: